Sunday, August 30, 2015

State of the Apocalypse: Halloween or Bust!

Where I’m at now, and why shit’s been so sporadic with the blog posts and stuff.

Heinlein, Ellison, and a monster truck. Honestly, the things
I do for you people.
For a mad minute yesterday I considered cutting off my work in progress, the third book of my SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER trilogy at page 140 and submitting to the publisher. That would give everyone something to read while I ground through the complexities of the second half of the narrative. I’d have to have a summary of What Went Before in what would be the fourth book, though, and I rather like that my individual books can be read independently of the series. 

I’ve had a couple of creative breaks over the last couple of nights. If I can just grind on through this next week, and the one after that...bottom line, if it looks like I’ve gone dark here, it’s because I’m going seriously dark on my forced march to the Final Boss and the resolution to the entire series.

My personal tagline guiding me through the writing of The Wrong Kind of Dead is, “Robert A. Heinlein and Harlan Ellison walk into a bar to brainstorm the zombie apocalypse and its aftermath.” I’ve got the Heinleinian frame of Smart People Out-thinking the Evil Empire, with the relentless Elliisonian questioning of motives and outcomes, along with Uncle Harlan’s acid observations of human nature. 

All this and an Apache helo-launched bunker-buster missile just under the summit of Pikes Peak, because I want to watch the Summit House jump into the air before it vanishes in a puff of superheated plasma. (Among other things, TWKoD is my Violent Femmes-y kiss-off to my near-decade living in Colorado Springs.)

So far, so good. Today I start from page 165. It’s a solid stack of narrative up to here. My challenge is to ease out of this midpoint, then begin building my Jenga-stack of pinch-points, and in precise order. I’ve got a zombie king named after a semi-famous American poem (recall how I riffed on Sylvia Plath and Charles Bukowski in the ultraviolent third chapter of Grace Among the Dead), with three evil zombie lieutenants going by the handles of Abby Cadaver, Lord Zebulon, and (scariest of all) Brian the Engineer leading entire freaking divisions of ravenously hungry dead as they converge upon one of the remaining hubs of civilization.

This masterpiece of misanthropic rage and angst-fueled genius needs to be in everyone’s hands by Halloween.

Halloween or Bust. Let’s do this.

Meanwhile, you're looking for something to read? Here you go, available in Kindle and paperback, in Canada and the UK:

Thing 1.
Derek Grace leaves his sick wife in Colorado Springs for a job interview in Kansas City. But in a few short days the early summer cold becomes the Final Flu, and as infrastructure breaks down, Grace finds himself miles from home, trapped between anxious police and National Guard, and all those Final Flu victims arising from their mass graves to attack the living. The long-unemployed Grace soon discovers a new skill set that serves him well in the New Weird Order. He's a long way from home, and the risen dead aren't the only ones in his way.

Only the strong will survive BLEEDING KANSAS.

Thing 2.
Returning too late from his Kansas adventure to save his wife and teenage children, Derek Grace loses himself in booze, books, pills, and the occasional killing spree among the undead. But then a stowaway and her fatal secret flush the Dead Silencer from hiding and back into a busy post-apocalypse in progress, where he must decide whether life is worth living when he’s already lost everything that matters.

In the heart of darkest horror, you will find GRACE AMONG THE DEAD.

Follow me on Twitter for the occasional link to a book excerpt. Im always good for a free taste before hooking you on the hard stuff.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Two Views of Yvonne Craig, 1937-2015

Her time in the sun was in 1968, when she was already 30 years old. Fortunately, she had that strain of Audrey Hepburn/Sally Field winsome good looks that last a while, especially if the woman in question takes care of herself, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink to excess, etc. Yvonne Craig was on top of all that.

Looking at the photo at right, one is reminded that it wasn’t until the late 1970s and into the 1980s, that being a “hardbody” with taut, toned skin and firm muscles was required in Hollywood. Actors and actresses today usually have a personal trainer to worry them into shape. And that’s fine; I’m all for toned bodies. But to behold Ms. Craig as she is here, with a little more body fat than would be permissible these days, a responsible adult who eats right and takes care of herself, it stirs an ache. 

Especially for middle-aged old coots like me who remember when women didn’t go out of their way to gross people out by way of being sexy. No manjaws. No cartoonishly exaggerated busts or rear ends. No weird piercings, or hair that looks like it was cut by a severely autistic blind child. As Archie and Edith once sang, “Those were the days.”

I don’t think anyone has really thought of her for years. Yvonne Craig was always a guest star, never the star. But she did all right for herself. After all, here we are talking about her, on the occasion of her death by breast cancer. We remember her more fondly than we do most former headliners—if we remember them at all.

Yvonne Craig’s best-remembered roles are that as Batgirl—brought on in a futile attempt to save a dying fad/show—and as Marta, seen above as the psychotic green-skinned Orion woman who tries to stab Capt. Kirk in the third season Star Trek episode, “Whom Gods Destroy.” 

The scene from which the above still was taken is notable as being one of the more brutal scenes in the entire series, as Marta is forcibly dragged out into the poisonous planetary atmosphere outside of an insane asylum’s dome. She’s then exploded via a high-explosive worked into the fabric of her dress, all for the satisfaction of that episode’s villain. 

The effects are stagey, and not at all gory like they would be today, for which I am actually grateful to NBC’s Bureau of Standards and Practices in 1968. Just knowing what was supposedly happening made enough of an impression on my nine-year-old self watching it for the first time without having a bucket of exploded green humanoid chum poured over my head. 

Yvonne Craig managed to score enough guesting roles here and there throughout the 1970s at a time in which, if you were an actress over 30, you were finished. She got little businesses going to support herself when those opportunities dried up, and was reportedly the epitome of graciousness at conventions. Dying at age 78 is thought of as young these days, but that’s cancer for you. Yvonne Craig lived well, and is sorely missed, no doubt as much for the lighter-hearted times she represents (grisly Star Trek death aside) as for the characters she brought to life.

The following clip was created by Paul Grisham for the Batgirl Access Channel, an unofficial Yvonne Craig fan page on Facebook, featuring scenes from Yvonne Craig’s busy years. As a Star Trek fan, I especially appreciated seeing the end-title credit with Susan Oliver and Yvonne Craig on the same card. Oliver and Craig were the only two women to portray the famous green-skinned Orion girls on the original series. I also thought it was interesting how many times Craig had to dance in her roles. She was extremely graceful. Sic transit gloria mundi.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Toy Box Terror

From the toy box to another box entirely...such is the Circle of Life...very much a closed the Twilight Zone™.

If you like Cyanide and Happiness and Perry Bible Fellowship comics, you’ll like Berkeley Mews. Check ‘em out.

Pray this movie doesn’t make any money, or we’ll soon see Toy Story 20: Rise of Woody. Which, for some of us, is every damn morning when we have to pee.


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

A Slow Tuesday Night in Gotham City

The child in back is dead, a victim of the Joker’s nerve toxin. The other survived a hair cut from Harley Quinn. Her full, ivory-white breasts slapped and pressed into his face as she waved blades about his head, giggling maniacally and utterly ruining the Super-Cuts job his mom got for him earlier that afternoon. This event, and the ass-whipping his mom laid on him after the police dropped him off at him house, will prove instrumental in his becoming the super-villain known as The Tit-Man™. 

This what happens to children who stay out past curfew in Gotham City. Parents, be advised.